A sepia-toned portrait of a Black man with small round glasses wearing a suit and tie

N. J. Frederick

Teacher, lawyer and civil rights activist

Nathaniel J. Frederick (1877-1938) was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to formerly enslaved parents. He was educated at Claflin College and the University of Wisconsin. He became the principal of the Howard School in 1901, which was the only public school for African American children in Columbia. Frederick went on to study and practice law in Richland County. He was one of Columbia’s prominent African American attorneys. He argued 33 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and fought for equal rights for African Americans his entire career. He also was a “fearless” journalist and editor of the Palmetto Leader, a major African American newspaper in South Carolina. Frederick was a founding member of the Columbia branch of the NAACP in 1917.

Image courtesy of South Carolina Political Collections

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